The Mayans Were Wiped Out

I’d prepared 3 tacos for lunch before she asked me with an angelic smile where I’d come from. She didn’t give me time to answer her first question when she interrupted herself with a giggle and added, “You’re the one Mayan from the email.”

She was referring to the email the organization had sent that morning in order to highlight the scholarship winners. My group was late for lunch because our teacher had forgotten to let us go for lunch. You see my teacher is from New York, and she hadn’t paid attention to the time change, or at least that was her excuse.

“You’re Mayan, right?” She asked me as I was trying to formulate an answer to her first question, “and your kind was wiped out, right?”

She looked at me as she wanted me to answer her questions, but perhaps she saw my puzzled face, so she giggled again to avoid her awkward questions. Indeed, I was puzzled by her questions and comments about the subject of the Mayans’ demise.

I was trying to figure out what she meant by “wiped out,” when a second middle-age lady butted in with her own comment to correct the first lady. “Eradicated,” she interrupted, “his kind were eradicated.”

What is the difference I thought silently as I stopped and looked at both ladies? I wanted to correct both ladies with a harsh tone; however, I just looked at them thinking of how much these two ladies knew about us, the Mayans.

I thought for a second bout this disgrace because these two ladies lived about 650 miles away from Yucatan, my home state in Mexico. They should have known that across their bay lays the old Mayan empire full of Mayan natives and expats living in a peninsula called Yucatan.

I had been trained as a teacher not to disregard anyone’s comments or ideas when I teach, so I put on my teacher’s hat and offered an answer that might not offend both ladies.

“Both of you are correct to an extent,” I finally answered, “Indeed, the Mayan people have been wiped out…to an extent as you know. The Mayan people were part of the Spanish colonization, so we have been exposed to genocide and eradication.”

Both of the ladies looked at me guiltily just like if they knew they have messed up. Perhaps, they were ashamed to be informed that the Mayan people are very much alive.

“You see,” I addressed both ladies, “There is a whole country of Mayans in the world, and today I want to let you know the Mayan people are very much alive. I am proof.”


Mi Nombre Es Dimas


Angelito Fridah

Mi Nombre Es Dimas
          after Frida Kahlo’s “El difunto Dimas Rosas a los 3 años de edad.”

yo siempre quise ser rey, no santo,
yo había soñado con ángeles
muchos ángeles con las alas
gigantes y de muchos colores,

en esta tierra de indios,
me llaman Dimas como mi padre,
yo nunca aprendí a leer o a escribir,

yo quería ser rey, pero me han vestido
como santo, con ropas finas, una corona
de padre, un lazo rosa de seda,
y la túnica de monaguillo,

me han traído gladiolas y cempasúchil,
yo soy un santo durmiendo encima de un petate,
estoy descalzo, mis pies son negros,
tengo mucho frio, he caminado
sobre espinas, y botellas quebradas,
mi cabeza de indio descansa
sobre una almohadilla que mi madre
ha bordado por todo un año,

me han coronado como santo,
mi nombre es Dimas,
soy un pobre indio,
que soñó ser un rey;


Gerardo Pacheco Matus, a Mayan Native, is the recipient of the distinguished Joseph Henry Jackson Award and fellowships from CantoMundo, The Frost Place, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and The Katharine Bakeless Nason Endowment. Pacheco’s poems and essays have appeared and are forthcoming from La Bloga, Spillway, Grantmakers in the Arts, Apricity Press, Amistad, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Cipactli, Poets Responding to SB 1070, The Packinghouse Review, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, West Branch Wired, The Cortland Review and Tin House Magazine.

“Si un día vas a Huhí” Pacheco Matus Versión al español: Fer de la Cruz

Si un día vas a Huhí

Gerardo Pacheco Matus

Versión al español: Fer de la Cruz


si un día vas a Huhí, busca a mis padres

en su casa pequeña de paredes de barro.

ya deben de ser viejos y aún me esperan.

ve y diles que me has visto sediento y solitario

aquí en este desierto. y que quiero ir a casa

y en mi hamaca encontrar descanso eterno.

y diles que por años no he dormido y otra vez quiero soñar.


si un día vas a Huhí, el cementerio

tiene una fosa nueva que cavó don Juanito.

dile que vuelvo a casa ya muy pronto y que mis padres

le darán dos gallinas y una paloma en pago

si me da mucha agua durante la sequía.

voy sediento y no sabes cuánto duele

la sed cuando no hay agua que tomar.


si un día vas a Huhí, ve con mi abuela.

es doña Micaela. dile que me prepare cochinita

con cebolla morada en abundancia y habanero,

y lo lleve al panteón en día de muertos.

así, quienes no tengan alma que les cocine,

podrán probar su esencia. dile. extraño su cocina

y su alegría. si la encuentras aún viva, por el amor de dios,

yo siempre pienso en ella y en mi abuelo, el leñador.


si un día vas a Huhí, ve a la iglesia y encuentra al padrecito.

y pídele que ofrezca una misa por mi alma,

una misa que me devuelva el ánimo.

me alegro de saber que alguien me espera.

dile que vuelvo a casa ya muy pronto,

que mis padres le harán rezos a la virgen todo el año.

dile que, si le sobra algo de vino,

lo derrame en mi tumba. tengo sed.


si un día vas a Huhí, espera en los oscuros callejones.

los recorrí hace mucho. escucha mis lamentos,

en silencio. y no temas, soy yo, tu viejo amigo,

el mismo que recorre hoy el desierto. pero pronto

voy a volver al pueblo en que nací

hace muchos veranos.

si un día vas a Huhí, visita las aguadas

donde me encontrarás bebiendo de ellas

pues en la muerte siempre estoy sediento.


If You Ever Visit Huhi


This poem is one (if not the first poem) ever published in my life. The poem is a reflection about my home town, Huhi.

If You Ever Visit Huhi


if you ever visit Huhi, find my parents,

they live in a small house covered with mud walls.

they must be old by now, but they are waiting

for me. tell them you saw me here in the desert,

alone, and thirsty. tell them i want to come back

home to rest in peace in my hammock. tell them

i have not slept for years and i want to dream again.


if you ever visit Huhi, go to the cemetery and find

a grave, newly dug. find don juanito, tell him

i am coming home soon. tell him my parents will

pay him with two chickens and a dove if he gives

me lots of water when the droughts begin,

i am thirsty and you do not know how painful

it is to be thirsty and have no water to drink.


if you ever visit Huhi, find doña micaela,

mi abuela, and tell her to cook me a good cochinita

with lots of red onions, and chiles habaneros.

tell her to bring it to the graveyard every dia de muertos,

so those who have no one to cook for them

can taste it, too. tell her i miss her cooking

and her laughter, please if you find her alive tell her

i always think about her and my grandfather, el leñador.


if you ever visit Huhi, go to the church and find

el padrecito and tell him to offer a mass for my

soul, a mass will give me strength. knowing

someone is waiting for me makes me happy.

tell him i am coming home soon, my parents

will pray to the Virgin a whole year.

tell him if he has some left-over wine, he can

pour some on top of my grave. i am thirsty.


if you ever visit Huhi, wait in the dark alleys

i once roamed, listen to my cries, be silent, do not

be afraid, as it is only me, your old friend,

the one who roams the desert. soon, i will arrive

at the town where i was born many summers ago.

if you ever visit huhi, visit the lagoons,

you will be able to find me there drinking

water as i am dead and very thirsty.


Post- Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Thoughts

Post- Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Thoughts

written by Gerardo Pacheco Matus-Work-Study Scholar (aka Waitership)

Special Thanks to Michael Collier, Jennifer Grotz, Noreen Cargill, Jason Lamb and Camille T. Dungy for giving me the chance to be part of Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference 2015, and for making me feel I belong to this great family. I also want to thank all of the people who supported and helped me financially and emotionally to get to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference 2015.

What did I gain as part of Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference?

The knowledge and the inspiration are unique and great. Having the opportunity to share this unique experience and place with the most outstanding writers in the country has been a great experience that can only be summoned to one word, inspiration.

By writing about my experience as a Work-Study Scholar (aka Waitership), I am trying to expressed ideas and feelings as I believe Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference has made a great impact in my personal and professional life. My experience as a Work-Study Scholar was a unique. I hope every body can have the same opportunity to experience the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference at some point in life.

Even though, my team and I worked three or four meal shifts per day, we were able to find energy to go out and be part of the many craft classes, workshops, readings and social events. I found myself sleeping for five hours or less and getting up when the campus bell was rang for breakfast (7:30am).

My workshop leader had warned me, “You as a waiter have to prioritize. First work and workshop and then if you can go to the other events.” I can go on about the many things that my team and I went through, good and bad, exciting and frustrating, but I guess this whole experience taught us to bound and to build a community of waiters-writers-human beings-dreamers.

There is no time in the Mountain for self-pity, or time to waste with nonsense.

On my first day, I took a nice hiking trip around Middlebury College. Hiking pays off because I met a great writer and professor, who taught me how to understand the ins and outs of Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference.

This professor was walking on the street by herself. I was happy to see this person walking alone because I have gotten myself lost while looking for Robert Frost’s cabin. I approached this professor and asked for directions.

I didn’t think about this, but after a while, I thought about it carefully, she must be afraid of me, a brown man holding a wooden stick mumbling to myself how stupid I was for not finding Robert Frost’s Cabin. Indeed, this professor admitted to me later on that she was afraid of me, and that she wanted to grab a rock just in case. Good thing she didn’t find a stone because she might have used it on me.

I feel happy because this professor was willing to help me coupe with the active Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference’s life. Also this professor couched me how to read my poems out load, a teaching lesson I won’t ever forget.

Before and After Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference

Every time, I feel like my journey as a writer and Poet has reached its end, or whenever I feel I have no energy, something always happens that shows me there is still hope. This time, Bread Loaf proved me that there is still hope even for me.

I am trying to understand my role as a Bread Loaf Scholar. Now, I like to think of myself as an Ambassador of Bread Loaf’s believes. This tittle implies a great deal, and I am not assuming to know the right answers for Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference at all, but after ten days at the Mountain, my life has been changed. Now, I can say I belong to a great family of writers.

Once, I arrived to California, I had an emotional melt down. I asked myself why was I feeling like this? I reflected for many hours about this feeling of misplacement. “It was only ten days,” I told myself, “I shouldn’t feel like this, lost and misplaced.”

At that moment, I felt like I didn’t belong here or there. One more time in my life, I felt like my world has become part of a bubble of ether. How can ten days at the Mountain have so much power to change me?

This is the magic of being isolated and sharing ideas, meals and rooms with the best writers I have ever met. This is what breathing that muggy air of the Vermont Mountain can make to people who have never belong to a community of writers before.

Redwood City, CA. August 28, 2015.

Photo: Michael Collier, Gerardo Pacheco Matus and Helena Maria Viramontes (Fellow Waiters for a Day)

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El Gran Comandante a Muerto

El Gran Comandante a Muerto

Author: Gerardo Pacheco Matus

el gran Comandante de la patria a muerto,

y los zopilotes no lo saben.

un aire nuevo de prosperidad y cambio

se avecina como una tormenta.

la revolución del monte y la selva se a acabado,

y muy pronto el malecón de los barcos olvidados,

se llenaran de nuevos cruceros provenientes de todo el mundo.

lo nuevo será lo viejo, y lo viejo será lo nuevo.

muy pronto el vejuco verde que cubre las casas

de los pobres con su implacable verdor

será arrancado de raíz, y las flores blancas,

rojas y azules, de un nuevo imperio brotaron,

en esta tierra de hambre y sueños truncados,

con la única misión de plagar este nuevo paraíso.

dios mediante, los balseros regresaran a su patria,

y serán considerados los nuevos héroes

de una patria que el Comandante nunca se imagino.

las goteras del capitolio nacional serán reparadas,

y las paredes peladas y descoloridas de las chozas

de los mas pobres se llenaran de frases nuevas del cambio.

la ideología comunista de los abuelos de la revolución

será cambiada con la de la prosperidad.

los monumentos de los grandes héroes de la patria

serán reemplazados con las estatuas del payaso MccDonalds,

y uno que otro coronel de Kenntucky Fried Chicken,

y sin olvidarnos de la WalL*Mart, o la Cocaa-Colaa Company.

los banqueros de botas de cowboy y sombreros Stettson

llegaran muy pronto y trataran de comprar un pedazo

de esta vieja nación con dinero de la petrolera ShellL.

el pobre revolucionario será expulsado

de sus casas que se han estado derrumbando

por medio siglo, y se marcharan al monte, o a la selva,

o a la sierra madre, o a donde la santa providencia disponga,

para esperar la resurrección del gran Comandante.

pronto el millonario llegara, y nuevos palacios

se edificaran a su nombre. pronto los Buuick y los Plymoths viejos,

serán retirados de circulación, y los carros últimos modelos

llegaran desde la madria patria. pronto, el pobre revoluciónario

será contratado como chofer, lava platos, mozo, jardinero

y recamarero en los nuevos hoteles Hillton.

el cambio se avecina, y nadien lo puede detener.

Shark Fins

Shark Fins

By Gerardo Pacheco Matus

a lonely shark plummets

down like led

into the ocean’s abyss

bleeding & trashing

oh, poor lonely shark

left to roam the ocean sea

without its dorsal fins

lost forever in a dark world

of water & fish

i can’t help it…

i’m thinking about eyes

that can’t see

hearts that can’t feel

hands that can’t hold

many summers ago

i read somewhere

that if you ever pluck

a person’s eyes

the person will wander off

forever in the dark afterlife

blind and deaf

searching for its eyes

i hope the poor shark

won’t linger in pain

in the heaven sea

searching for its fins

The Old Chess Player

The Old Chess Player


i can see the old man

sitting inside of his dark cell


a chess board

sits in front of the light—


the shadows of queens & kings

motionless in time—


no motion forward—

no motion backwards—


time stuck—


the old man thinks:

what is

the next thing

to do

in this world

of white and black;


El Latino Indocumentado

para todos los latinos indocumentados…y los que no también….


El Latino Indocumentado

 Gerardo Pacheco Matus 

el latino indocumentado anda por este país

muriéndose de miedo

por que la migra se lo quiere llevar

al otro lado


las madres hispanas andan llorando

por las calles de los ángeles como la llorona

por que la migra se a llevado a sus maridos indocumentados


hijos e hijas, madres y padres hispanos

todos deportados al resto del mundo

en el mes de la hispanidad


a esos países del sur donde el indocumentado

no es ni indocumentado, ni mojado

ni espaldas mojadas, ni frijoleros 

si no que un ser humano pobre—

un indio pata rajada, un pordiosero—


un indio mas en este mundo

sin dignidad, ni voz ni voto, perdido

en la soledad de este inmenso continente americano


donde el hombre es despedazado

y destazado como un cerdo por la mafias

de los gobiernos ocupados

esos gobiernos de colores verde, blanco y rojo…


los niños indocumentados andan por la frontera

con los pies descalzos, llenos de ampollas

ellos nunca podrán bailar la salsa gabacha en Washington


que hipocresía, el latino indocumentado

anda por este país muriéndose de miedo

mientras que en La Casa Blanca Obama

y sus seguidores andan celebrando el mes del hispano—


quizá Obama mencionara, que el hispano

también se muere en la frontera

tratando de llegar a este grandioso país

para ser celebrado en el mes de la hispanidad


o quizá Obama nunca admitirá

que su gobierno ha deporta al hispano

indocumentado en cifras mayores que las de Bush


Redwood City,  CA, September ’13

A Mayan Pyramid


A Mayan Pyramid


an old man wanted to build

a Mayan pyramid

in the middle of the earth


a real Mayan pyramid

as tall as the sky

with holy jaguars

and feather snakes statues


the old man dreamt

with this monstrous white pyramid

made of giant stones

standing in the middle of the earth


and every day, the old man walked

across his dry fields

his pockets filled with stones

carrying  stone after stone

in order to build his own Mayan pyramid